Since writing last, my work pace has picked up quite a bit! In July my counterpart and I attended a pitso, which is the equivalent of a town meeting that is called by the chief. At this pitso my counterpart introduced me to the village and announced that I would be happy to work on any community project as an advisor. This was a great experience as now most people in my village know why I am there, know that I’m not an English teacher, and best of all know my name and can stop calling me Ausi Lekhooa (White Girl). The chief of my village speaks zero English but has said some very kind things to me through translators, basically that he appreciates my presence and commitment to the village. The result of this pitso has been a parade of groups of villagers dropping by my place and requesting help with a variety of projects. I am endeavoring to become an expert in everything from beekeeping to mushroom-growing to selling handicrafts in order to be of use. It’s exciting to be so popular in my village and have work to do; now the challenge is prioritizing and setting realistic expectations.
In other news, last week PC Lesotho had an All-Volunteer Conference in which all 80+ PCVs came together, attended a development panel, had group discussions, and, most importantly, put on a talent show. Here’s me and The Band performing that crowd-favorite, “Wagon Wheel”:
I’ve started working with a local org that offers orphans and their care-givers sewing training. One of the crafts they make are these adorable stuffed animal dogs out of traditional seshoeshoe fabric. The sales keep the training program in business and help the care-givers support their families. My counterpart calls them “puppies”. Here is one of the puppies I sold at All-Vol, sporting another volunteer’s IGA handicraft product, seshoeshoe bowtie, or bowshoeshoe:
Bowshoeshoe are available on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BowShoeshoe. If you are interested in ordering a puppy, leave a comment below!
Here you can see me in the audience of a skills-sharing session about doing youth camps with very limited resources:
Camps on life skills and gender equality are a popular PC project, but often require sponsorship by businesses or grant money in order to pay for food, chaperones, and other materials, making it a major endeavor for the PCV and counterpart. Here, PCV Superstar Beth shared her experience putting on a day camp in her village with zero sponsorship/outside financial support.
Lastly, here is a picture of the motley crew of PCVs that came together to celebrate American Independence Day, or 4th of Ju-braai, as I dubbed it (braai is South African BBQ):
Explaining Independence Day to Basotho is fun because Lesotho was also a British colony for ~75 years. We had a wonderfully multi-cultural evening that included potluck food, beer pong, and explaining Cards Against Humanity to Basotho. Looking forward to Lesotho Independence Day on October 4th!
One more thing: I am working on a project with PC Lesotho’s Diversity Committee to make lesson plans about diversity in the US. We are collecting photos and information about a range of people. The lesson is going to show students different pictures of people, let them make assumptions, and then show them how diverse each person is. The idea is to break some stereotypes about Americans. We won’t use all the profiles, but are trying to get as much diversity as possible. If you can help or get someone else you know to help, I would really appreciate it!
I need a picture (of just you) and the answers to the following (feel free to leave any of them blank):
Favorite musical artist/song:
Favorite food (and description, if necessary):
Email me your answers and photo if you’d like to participate or have any questions/suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s most of what I’ve been up to in the past month and a half. That, and the grant for the chicken coop project I mentioned last time. The next few weeks hold another training, this one in Grassroots Soccer, vacation to the McGregor Poetry Festival near Cape Town, and hopefully getting this grant submitted and approved. Thanks for reading!